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5 F1 drivers who did not live up to their potential - Slide 5 of 5


Despite having prodigious talent, Rubens Barichello played second fiddle to Michael Schumacher for most of his career We have seen some immense ta ...

Rubens Barichello Michael Schumacher 2015
Despite having prodigious talent, Rubens Barichello played second fiddle to Michael Schumacher for most of his career

We have seen some immense talent over the years in Formula One. Some drivers started off on a high, displaying their immense talent from the get-go and maintaining it. Others started off relatively unobtrusively, only to build themselves up and become bankable, reliable drivers for their teams. 

Several others were either a flash in the pan  – with sporadic, unexpected bursts of talent and skill – but not doing much else after, while several others have showed immense talent that has not gone the distance.

We profile five of them.

#5 Juan Pablo Montoya

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Juan Pablo Montoya Kimi Raikkonen Williams 2001
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates his win at the Brazilian GP in 2004 with 2nd placed teammate Kimi Raikkonen

Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya began his motorsports career later than many – he was 22 when he first joined Formula 3000, beginning F1 testing the next year for Williams.

Although he ran testing, he would not have his own Formula One seat until 4 years later, when, in 2001, he was signed to Williams. In the meantime, however, he had already won the CART Championships and showed immense promise.

Partnering Ralf Schumacher at Williams, Montoya showed racing skill from his debut at the Australian Grand Prix that year, and through the year showed an uncanny ability to move up the grid quickly after beginning from what would otherwise have been losing positions outright.

Like several other drivers, he was let down repeatedly by engine failures. That was not the only issue that plagued the driver, however, as he found it difficult to find consistency in his form.

He managed to finish a highest of 3rd in the drivers’ championship – two years in a row, with Williams.

Montoya did manage something few others did in the coming years, however – giving a challenge to Ferrari, who had been in charging, dominant form and barely left 1st or 2nd to any other team. Despite no wins in 2002, he managed to finish in 3rd in the drivers’ championship.

After leaving Williams for McLaren in 2005, a decision that had been taken the previous year, Montoya’s form, which had already been on a downward spiral, got worse. The remainder of his F1 career showed very occasional flashes of brilliance, and the end was spelled rather acrimoniously, with McLaren boss Ron Dennis learning via a public announcement that Montoya had chosen to move to NASCAR instead.

Montoya’s contract stood terminated with immediate effect, and he joined NASCAR soon thereafter.

The move proved good for Montoya in the end, though; the Colombian has been racing for Team Penske in the Indy 500 since 2014, and this year finished the championships on top.

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